I’ve been a little worried about this season of Scream Queens. All the ingredients that made the show so much fun the first time around — the campy deaths, the zingy dialogue, the hot guys, the outrageous costumes, the bangin’ soundtrack — are still there, but this second season is missing some sort of spark.
And then, this week, it happened: I fell asleep. Somewhere between Chanel falsely accusing eight different people of killing Chad Radwell, the very perfunctory seeming Chanel-O-Ween, and the world’s lamest Halloween party, I passed out like that little butterfly in the Lunestra commercial. And it wasn’t one of those times where you doze off and you realize that slumber is approaching and you agree to it and wake up refreshed after 15 minutes. It was one of those times where you pass out and wake up two hours later with the TV still on wondering where the hell you are, what day of the week it is, and whether or not we live in a world where John Stamos is currently employed on television. I don’t know if that’s the fault of Scream Queens or all of the fish tacos I had for dinner, but I was deader than Chad Radwell’s rigor mortis–ed member.
I think we’re all used to this show not making a lick of sense. That is part of the fun of it, after all, just accepting that these extreme things are happening, but Chanel’s story line in “Halloween Blues” is so off the rails that Amtrak took out an insurance claim against it.
The episode starts off good, with Chanel wearing her Jackie O. costume from last year and keening over the death of Chad Radwell and wondering why no one is adequately mourning him by peeing in inappropriate places. She follows that up by lashing out at the reading of his will (it turns out everyone in his family crashed in their private 747 while flying to whatever town the hospital is in to convince Chad not to marry Chanel) because Chad left his entire family fortune to the CURE Institute and Dr. Munsch instead of Chanel.
Then she walks in on Dr. Brock and Dr. Munsch and discovers that the two of them started sleeping together after Chanel got engaged. He gives Chanel a tincture to cure her viral infection that somehow turns her blue. (An absolutely flawless porcelain blue the color of Scandinavian china, but blue nonetheless.) Then she has to give away disgusting bags of pus to her social-media followers to convince them that they hate her. And, finally, she and Denise Hemphill call on the spirit of Chad Radwell with their Ouija board, and she either really sees the spirit of Chad telling her that he always loved Denise and their Brokeback Mountain role-play more than he loved her, or she is tripping on ayahuasca.
It wasn’t a character arc, it was more like a shame spiral, with all of these events happening one after the other with no reason or connection. As I said before, I’ve come to embrace that about this show, but Ryan Murphy can only stretch viewers’ expectations so far. The plot only needs to string together all of the great jokes, but when actions and consequences seem to have no bearing on each other, it’s not even accomplishing that.
Chanel-O-Ween is the worst. It is as if someone told the writers they had to include it because it happened in season one so they thought up an easy way to rush through it to fulfill the fake holiday but they weren’t really in the spirit. It is the storytelling equivalent of the guy who shows up at a Halloween party with a Superman shirt under a white shirt and tie and says that he’s Clark Kent. It is the absolute minimum amount of costume one can get away with and still be considered dressed-up.
Last year, the concept of Chanel-O-Ween was that she deigned to do something cute for her social-media followers on Halloween by duping them into thinking she actually liked them. At the time it was a keen parody of Taylor Swift, who uses her “aw-shucks” surprises to superfans to appear both normal and more famous than anyone else on the planet. This time, since Chanel is poor, she gave everyone gross gifts from the hospital to show them that she actually hates them so they’ll have to work harder to gain her acceptance. It wasn’t a critique of anything really, just an excuse to shoot everyone in the face with some goop.
The only thing that really excited me was when two dozen Alexander Hamiltons showed up in the ER with some sort of weird poisoning that made them puke and hallucinate. No, it wasn’t the medical trauma; it was the fact that all of those people decided to be Hamilton this year. I mean, of course. (And is it really a threat that Lin-Manuel Miranda might choke on his tongue? I feel like that should happen the next time we’re forced to listen to him freestyle on a talk show.)
Chanel No. 5 and Hester both dressed as Ivana/Ivanka Trump was giving me chills like I just saw a clown in the woods and he offered me candy. Still, the reason why Hester was roaming around in the first place was so egregiously nonsensical that I can’t even rationalize it with some sort of story momentum.
Somehow, between the drowsiness and the fish tacos, the Green Meanie attacked Chanel No. 5 while Hester looked on. She somehow survived a knife to the back of the head and lived long enough to warn Denise that the Green Meanie was trying to kill her with punch and some defibrillator paddles. First they took away our Chad Radwell, and now his lover, and the only reason I continue watching this show is … Denise Hemphill? Why are we going to keep watching? Especially when the previews claim the next episode will be the deadliest ever. Who is left to kill?
Are we any closer to figuring out who the Green Meanie is? There were several clues in this episode. First, Dr. Munsch asks why the killer diverted from his pattern of killing patients and instead killed Chad. “Why has the pattern been broken?” she asks, to which a Chanel replies, “Who can say?” That is the mantra of the entire show. Maybe it’s because Chad’s death is more about his money than about actual revenge. Munsch even says that the killings may not be related to getting revenge on the hospital after all.
Later, Chanel tells Brock, who was leading her and insinuating that he was the killer, that in her experience, serial killers are usually several people headed by a mastermind. That had the sort of ring to it that makes me believe it will be true again this season. This brings me back to my big theory that Grace is the killer. Of course she would have it out for the Chanels after everything they put her through, so targeting Chad and Chanel No. 5 makes sense. But Hester, who killed all of her friends, didn’t do anything when the Green Meanie attacked Chanel No. 5, which might mean that they’re working in cahoots. Who else might be in the Green Meanie’s cabal? Brock is a likely suspect and Chamberlain, though barely around this episode, is a good guess, too. If I could only stay awake long enough to find out who the killer truly is.